All posts by kayemarieferguson

Longer Blog Essay #2: Girls’ Day Out

I chose to explore the electronic work of literature called Girls’ Day Out by Kerry Lawryonovicz. It begins by letting the reader pick one of three sections that comprise the work: “Poem,” “Author’s Note,” and “Shards.” To access these sections, the reader must click on one of the pictures, which are of different parts of a horse (legs, neck, head). When one hovers over each picture, the colors become inverted, transforming the images into their ghostly counterparts.

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Blog Post #3: Plant Radio Pillows

Radio that plays the pillows-

Pillows that play Robert Plant:

“Darkness, Darkness, be my pillow”,

I don’t want my wife to rant.


She likes reading, and I listen

To the air and nothingness.

Pillow talk ain’t gonna happen,

So I’ll choose the radio’s kiss.

Artist’s Statement: My method for writing this poem was to Google the three words that make up the title and to tweak particular phrases I found in the search results to make them rhyme. My goal was to explore the dynamic between two disparate inanimate object (radios and pillows) and to translate it into a failing human relationship.


Longer Blog Essay #1: Feed and the Shaping of Reality

In his novel Feed, M. T. Anderson explores many different questions and anxieties about technology’s influence on our lives. The dystopian, futuristic setting serves as a foundation on which to examine the possibility of what America’s, and the world’s, future might look like if technological advancement progresses at the rate it currently does. Anderson executes this examination of our technologically dependent society by exaggerating the present corporately dominated, commercial environment in which we live. The way he imagines this dystopian society beckons the reader to ask the question, how does the way human beings use technology shape the way they view the world, and does it limit or enhance their individuality and their ability to experience life? The answer to this question lies in the way the characters interact with the world and other people within the futuristic context of the novel. Titus and the other characters live in a world mediated by the Feed, which shapes how they see things and how they communicate. However, the technology itself does not do so inherently; it has only come to do so as a result of how humans have decided to use the feed, namely, commercially.

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Peter Pan Project Proposal

Mission Statement: Our purpose is to explore certain themes that show up throughout Peter Pan and visually represent them in a map of Neverland, while analyzing them historically. The map would enable easier engagement with themes of the novel, making them more memorable. Our primary target readership would be other students who are interested in literary scholarship of novel in terms of historical significance as opposed to just simple textual analysis. A beginning reader/researcher could gain a better understanding of the story through a historical lens. We hope to learn about the way the novel interacts with social, cultural, and political views of the time period contemporary to its publication.

Existing Resources/”Competition”, both digital and traditional: There are numerous works of peer-reviewed scholarship available in digital forms through JSTOR, MLA Bibliography, and other websites like these. However, oftentimes users have limited access, and some of the articles cannot be read online, even though they show up in searches. The majority of print resources are concerned with the play rather than the novel. Our visually-structured project offers greater accessibility for the beginning researcher. Our project would also consolidate the kind of information found in existing resources that are difficult to access and would organize them in a different, intuitive, and visual manner. There are many versions available online such as the play, the novel, and various other adaptations (The Peter Pan Alphabet, the graphic novel, etc.) through Google and Virgo.

Group Organization Plan: Decision-making will proceed as a discussion. For the most part, we will go with that which the majority of the group agrees on. Our group will communicate via e-mail regularly and meet every Sunday, or at least every two weeks. We plan to meet briefly after class on Wednesdays to touch base and prioritize our work for the coming week. Since the nature of our project will be an interactive map, each group member will research a theme that is related to a specific place:

  • Wendy’s Hut/Lost Boys’ Hideout (Gender/Domestic Life): Kaye Marie
  • The Plains (Race): John
  • The Jolly Roger (Piracy): Nick
  • Mermaid Lagoon/Marooner’s Rock (Sexuality): Chaney
  • The Neverwood (British Empire and its decline): Corinthia

Each of us expects the others to do their portion of the work in a timely manner and to communicate regularly.

Tools: The technical tools we intend to use are WordPress, ThingLink, Photoshop, and possibly an image hosting site (like imgur). We also plan to use research tools like Virgo, MLA Bibliography, and JSTOR as well as the UVa Library. Ideally, we would like to use a fictional map creator, as opposed to Photoshop. These tools are, for the most part, self-explanatory, and we will learn as we work on the project. ThingLink provides the ideal platform for our project because it creates an intuitive, interactive image for users to explore a theme. This tool will allow for our map to be more than a simple static image. ThingLink is easy to use and easily incorporated into other sites (embedded, links, etc.).

Detailed plan and timeline: The home page of our WordPress site will include the embedded interactive map, and users will be able to click on each point on the map, which will link to pages dedicated to the different themes. These dedicated pages will vary but will essentially consist of well researched text, images, videos and other materials.

  • Milestone 1: Read Book by the end of the week of March 3.
  • Milestone 2: By the first week of april, have most of the research and notes done, and be working on the blog pages.
  • Milestone 3: By April 19, each person’s respective page should be complete in full prose with all relevant material (images, etc.)
  • **Milestone 4: By the second week of April (10th), have a rough outline of the map, and test embedding it on the WordPress site.
  • Milestone 5: By April 25, have the map completed and embedded, with the pages linked. This leaves a few days for review and final touches.

The individual research pages will be enough to represent our finished project if we cannot get the map to work properly.

Blog Post #2: The Stanford Literary Lab

  • What is the primary purpose of this project?

The Stanford Literary Lab aspires to research and perform quantitative, rather than qualitative, analysis of literature. The Lab performs “experiments,” some of which analyze linguistic style, others literary history, among many other comparative studies. They essentially strive to transfer qualitative literary data into quantitative, numerical data that can provide insight into literary history.

  • What does this project hope to do that a print resource (a book/books, a journal article, a reference work, etc.) couldn’t?

This project compiles all of the Lab’s research into one place and provides most, if not all, of their published articles in PDF format, making them more easily accessible to everyone. It also provides a way to contact them directly, providing links to their e-mails. This project also hopes to encourage participation by providing information on their upcoming and current experiments and events. The website is able to expand the audience by consolidating the Lab’s work and making it more widely available.

  • What is distinctive/notable about this project’s approach to its subject matter?

First of all, the subject matter is very diverse. I find it notable that this project gives comprehensive summaries to inform readers of the intent of each experiment.

  • How would this site/project be useful to scholars doing research?

It provides easy access to scholarly literary research, which scholars could reference to support their own academic arguments. They also provide a schedule of presentations that a scholar could attend to learn more about the Lab’s research.

  • Is this project designed such that it might reach a broader audience/readership than scholars doing research?

This project is easy to navigate, limiting the links to a simple navigation bar, and the PDFs are available to everyone; however, it is a project designed by researchers for others interested in literary research. I do not believe that it would appeal to broader audience.

  • Are there any aspects of this project’s approach that might be useful to the project groups in our class as they conceive of, design, and implement a significantly smaller-scale digital project?

I think a simple, professional design is something that we should emulate in our projects. However, because I doubt any of our groups would be performing experiments, I’m not sure if this particular project’s approach would be helpful to us. Nevertheless, I think it would be interesting to do different things with a page like an “events” or “people” page, using the characters and major events of our novel to somehow provide an informative resource. I’m not exactly sure how we might do this, but it’s something to think about.

Blog Post #1: Marriage and Divorce

The words marriage and divorce interested me because divorce was historically neither socially acceptable nor very common. I wanted to see how the historical usage of these words might or might not reflect this. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, marriage is defined as “the condition of being a husband or wife,” and its earliest use in this sense of the term dates back to 1135. Divorce refers to “the legal dissolution of marriage by a court or other competent body, or according to forms recognized in the country, nation, or tribe.” The OED has traced the use of this sense of the word to about 1377. It is commonly stated that the divorce rate has increased over the years, so I expected the Google Ngram to show a somewhat constant frequency of marriage and a rise in the frequency of divorce, eventually exceeding that of marriage. This is what I discovered:

Marriage and Divorce

The frequency of the word marriage does not remain constant, and I’m not sure how to possibly explain the huge spike in the frequency of the word around 1576-82. Perhaps it has something to do with the Renaissance? The frequency of divorce also did not conform fully to my expectations. It does, however, rise slightly, which would seem to adhere to the idea that divorce has become more acceptable and more common over time. This particular example shows the weaknesses of programs like Google Ngram. While it is interesting to see how frequently the words show up throughout the years, it does little to tell us why these patterns occurred. Statistics may show that divorce rates have increased, but does that necessarily mean it is being written about more frequently? Even if writing about it has increased along with the divorce rate, might that be something occurring only in certain places (like the United States) rather than throughout the entire English-speaking and English-writing world?